The appeals process is an important part of the Australian judicial system that can work in favour of the plaintiff or the defendant in an injury compensation case.
Unfortunately for one Lebanese man who recently attended NSW’s Court of Appeal, his original payout following a collision with a motorcyclist has been reduced after appellate judges took new factors into consideration.
The man, who was in Australia on a three-month visa, was hit by a motorcyclist while using a pedestrian crossing. The biker failed to stop and the Lebanese national made a claim under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act.
Following the incident on July 1 2009, the man was taken to hospital where the tip of his finger was amputated. Upon returning to Lebanon in August of the same year, he began experiencing neck pains that radiated into the shoulder.
He also complained of pins and needles in his fingers, muscle spasms and lower back pain. The injuries left the man unable to continue in his previous job as a manual labourer and he suffered severe embarrassment due to his deformed hand.
As such, the primary judge awarded the claimant $561,260 for non-economic losses, past and future economic losses and various out-of-pocket expenses.
Injury compensation appeal
However, on appeal the appellate judges were asked to recalculate a number of costs relating to the compensation.
Firstly, the claimant acknowledged that he had not attempted to find alternative employment since the accident. He argued that he would rather “do nothing” than earn less money than he was earning as a plasterer. According to the defendant, an insurer, this unwillingness to seek a new job should reduce the payout awarded.
It was also contested that the original judge had offered excessive compensation for future economic losses, as she had assumed that the man would work at the same rate of 66 hours a week, 52 weeks a year for the foreseeable future. The defendant said this seemed unlikely.
The Court of Appeal judges agreed with the appellant on both counts, reducing past and future economic losses by $30,000 and $81,400 respectively.
The man’s contributory negligence had been increased from 10 to 41 per cent at a previous hearing. He therefore saw his compensation shrink from $561,260 to $303,850.
This case highlights the potential complexity of injury compensation processes, which is why an experienced legal team is essential to achieving the best outcomes.
For example, seasoned lawyers can reduce the chances of your payout being lowered on appeal by ensuring all the evidence to support your case is adequately represented in court.
Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners today for more information on whether or not you are eligible to make a personal injury claim.